By Rich Hilliard
Fannin County Leader sports
BONHAM — Earning academic all-district notoriety yearly shows a few things about Bonham senior Mackenzie Person.
She’s able to succeed simultaneously during the season on and off the field.
She’s also able to use skills useful in one place in another.
Take an observation she has made about her pitching — and how to be the most successful.
“I never had much speed,” said Person. “I focused [instead] on spin. I thought maybe movement was more of a way to go.”
“She does a good job using spin [of the ball] to get outs when she is pitching,” said Bonham softball manager Micky Englutt. “That’s her weapon. It’s what got her to the next level. She will be very effective.”
That next level equates pitching and playing shortstop for the University of Arkansas-Rich Mountain after graduation. Person announced her decision at a ceremony held in the Bonham High School main gymnasium on Nov. 22 with teammates, coaches, family and friends in attendance.
“[UARM] watched my videos … and gave me an offer,” said Person, who will be part of the Division-II school’s first softball team in 2021. “They said I showed leadership qualities. Since they are a new team, they thought I’d be a good fit”
“You hear the cliche: ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.’ She’s that kid who has worked hard to get in this position that is next [for her],” said Englutt, calling her the Greg Maddox of Bonham’s pitching staff. “She has done it. Kudos to her. She has worked to get this offer.”
Knowing where she will pitch after high school, Person, also an all-district honorable mention on the field in 2019, will now focus on her final season with the Lady Warriors who will vie in 2020 for a 12th-consecutive postseason. Bonham exited last spring in the area round via eventual Class 3A state champion Emory Rains.
“I want to go as far as possible,” said Person. “I want to have fun and make the most of this moment.”
Last season, Person combined with her younger sister, Cameron, now a sophomore, to give opponents an abrupt change when one left — and the other entered — the pitching circle.
“Cameron is more speed,” said Mackenzie Person. “I’m more movement.”
That dissimilarity made the difference in the decisive game of the Lady Warriors’ bi-district series. Person’s 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief left Pilot Point unable to adjust — and helped Bonham advance. She entered the game with the Lady Warriors trailing, 2-0, in the first inning — with Pilot Point having just reloaded the bases.
“I wanted to do the best I could by coming in and helping my sister and getting outs,” said Mackenzie Person. “That was all I was focused on.”
Person needed only three pitches to get consecutive force outs at home on grounders back to the pitcher to end the threat. Bonham eventually won, 4-2, to advance.
Expect more of that in 2020 from the older Person who enters the season with a 4-2 record, five saves, 32 strikeouts and only 13 walks during 58 innings for the Lady Warriors.
“She will have a similar role this year, with a few more starts,” said Englutt. “It will again be an offset situation: out of speed, go to movement. Maybe flip flop.
“She will also have to step up and play other positions,” he said. She’s a kid I’ll look to to fill roles left by graduation. She will be a full-time player in games going forward.”
Photo by Rich Hillard